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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn calls on state House to pass marriage equality bill

Marriage equality

By Scottie Thomaston Illinois state seal

Yesterday afternoon, following the lopsided vote in Minnesota’s House of Representatives to pass a marriage equality bill (by a margin of 75-59), Illinois Governor Pat Quinn issued a statement calling on the Illinois House of Representatives to send the state senate-passed marriage equality bill to him for his signature, the Chicago Tribune reports:

“It’s time to vote,” Quinn said Thursday. “Illinois passing marriage equality into law, I think, sends a great signal to the people of our state and the people of America. So it’s important to Illinois (that) the House of Representatives get going.”

The marriage equality bill was approved by the state senate on Valentine’s Day. A month ago, EqualityOnTrial reported that Governor Quinn said the House was “very close” to passing the bill. And more recently, Rhode Island and Delaware have joined the growing list of states offering same-sex couples equal marriage rights.

60 House votes are needed to pass the bill, and several legislators who were previously on the fence have said in recent weeks they will support the bill. The report says that although Governor Quinn believes there’s enough support for the bill’s passage, the House sponsor of the bill will only say that momentum is building:

Quinn contends the support is there to pass the measure, though sponsoring Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, would not say when he expects to call the legislation for a vote. Harris noted the lawmakers were focused on pension reform, but said momentum continues to build in favor of same-sex marriage.

“In the last couple months we have seen the voters of three different states vote for marriage equality at the ballot bot and in the last week we saw two other states, and probably a third today, where the legislature said that treating people equally is the right American thing to do,” Harris said. “Now the eyes of the country are on Illinois to see if we are going to do the right thing.”

Supporters have said they are closing in on the 60 House votes required to send the bill to Quinn. But backers also are not expected to call the bill until they’re sure they have enough votes lined up to pass it. The thinking is that gay marriage supporters don’t want to ask allies to take what for some is a tough vote politically if the measure is going to fail because that would make it more difficult to muster support a second time.

After passage of Delaware’s marriage law, Illinois Rep. Greg Harris, the House sponsor, said on the House floor:

“The eyes of the nation now look to Illinois,”[…]“Each of us who are called upon to cast this vote must decide how we wish to be remembered by history. I believe my colleagues will want to be on the right side of history, remembered among those who stood for fairness and equality.”

The Illinois General Assembly is set to adjourn May 31, so time is running out for lawmakers in the state House.

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